So I've been pretty inactive recently, and I apologize :( School really is a burden, and I have such respect for bloggers who somehow manage to do both at the same time. The good news is, I have been reading A TON lately.
So to give you short snippets of my thoughts on these three INCREDIBLE novels, I have started this Mini Reviews series to make sure I get straight to the point.
Title: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Author: Sunil Yapa
Genre: Historical Fiction
Blurb: 1999. Victor, homeless after a family tragedy, finds himself pounding the streets of Seattle with little meaning or purpose. He is the estranged son of the police chief of the city, and today his father is in charge of one of the largest protests in the history of Western democracy.
But in a matter of hours reality will become a nightmare. Hordes of protesters - from all sections of society - will test the patience of the city's police force, and lives will be altered forever: two armed police officers will struggle to keep calm amid the threat of violence; a protester with a murderous past will make an unforgivable mistake; and a delegate from Sri Lanka will do whatever it takes to make it through the crowd to a meeting - a meeting that could dramatically change the fate of his country. In amongst the fray, Victor and his father are heading for a collision too.
My Thoughts: When I first finished this novel, I was dumbstruck with the sheer magnitude of its ambition and language. The read felt like a roller coaster ride, and I felt truly immersed in the protesting heat of the streets of Seattle. I think the author dealt with the topic of riot and protest very well, and explored how ridiculous it all may seem but also recognized the deep personal need to find a place to voice opinion and desperation.
Although some people found the descriptive and grand language/sentences a little too much, I actually loved the poignant statements that would pop out of nowhere. It offered a very beautiful contrast to the violence of the actions in the book.
In all, fantastic. I am looking to receive this book for Christmas!!
Title: Without You, There is No Us
Author: Suki Kim
Blurb: It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.
My Thoughts: First of all, this is a BRAVE story. This is what writing should be for. Suki Kim gives us a personal look into somewhat of the truth of life in North Korea, and risks her safety by recording notes and introducing illegal concepts to the college students. I was blown away by the story, especially as a South Korean, because it is so evident that the citizens of North Korea are just people, just like any of us are.
And not only is the premise so captivating, but the writing is also brilliantly done in a way that makes the reader connect with Suki Kim but also see different perspectives on life in North Korea. This memoir truly made me realize how grateful I was to live in a free country and emphasized that we must try and understand situations different from ours, because that is how change can happen.
My rating: 4 kisses!
Author: Khaled Hosseni
Genre: Historical Fiction
Blurb: Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.
My Thoughts: This book was so beautiful and rich that I could not put it down for an entire Sunday. The two main characters Laila and Mariam, are two of the most real characters I have ever read- geniusly developed and unbelievably brave. Both have found such deep places in my heart, and their stories as women under a male-controlled regime is one of deep sorrow but admirable resilience. I have learned so much about the military conflicts in Afghanistan and the personal effects on refugees- this is an IMPORTANT book. No one could read this and say the horrible things that are said about refugees and Muslim countries.
"A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her."
Rating: 5 kisses!